Ruby, the Gentle Matriarch
of PAWS African Elephants
February 18, 1961- March 29, 2011
On May 15, 2007, the Los Angeles Zoo delivered Ruby, a 46-year-old African elephant, to ARK 2000, PAWS’ 2,300-acre sanctuary in San Andreas, California, to live in retirement with 71, Mara and Lulu, PAWS three African elephants.
Within days, Ruby had socialized with the other elephants and became an important member of the group, roaming the hills and foraging on the grassy slopes with her new friends.
Ruby became the respected and beloved matriarch of the group over the next few years, and was often seen on top of the hill, ears flared, guarding her companions with the fierce determination of a wild elephant matriarch.
Everyone who worked with Ruby was mesmerized by her beautiful eyes and her gentle disposition. She will be missed by elephants, caregivers and her many fans who were privileged to share her life.
At 50 years of age, Ruby was one of the oldest African elephants in captivity.
Ruby died at 6 p.m. on March 29th. Ruby’s veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, PAWS director, Pat Derby, and the entire elephant staff were with her when she passed. A necropsy is being performed at UC Davis, and results are still pending.
Ruby’s records show that prior to her transfer to Los Angeles Zoo, she was transferred several times and performed with Circus Vargas. The trauma from capture and transfer is devastating to a young elephant. Obviously, Ruby’s life was the ultimate cause of her death.
The loss of this magnificent individual is a direct result of captivity and its traumatizing effect on elephants. We must stop the senseless capture and export of wild elephants and keep elephants in the wild.
REST IN PEACE DEAR FRIEND.
BEWITCHED BY AN ELEPHANT
By Melya Kaplan, Executive Director
Many years ago, when I had just started the Animal Rights Club at Crossroads, one of my students announced that she wanted the club to protest a tug of war contest being held nearby between an elephant and a car. It was being staged as a publicity stunt to advertise the circus and the car. Ringling Brothers would supply the elephant.
That next Saturday, early on a hot June morning, we met in the parking lot with food, water, and large signs. An hour later a truck arrived, slowly pulling several long boxcars, and parked in the lot. Six men jumped out, each holding a long metal rod with a sharp steel crescent point at the top. The doors of the box cars opened and inside each one stood two elephants, chained by their feet to the floor. I froze. Brandishing the metal rods like a weapon, men began to take the elephants out one by one. All the elephant had to do was see the bull hooks, and she cowered. It was horrible. I knew how that elephant felt.
Suddenly I looked to my right. An elephant in the box car next to me was staring at me, piercing my eyes. In an instant I was just her gaze. There was no Melya. I snapped back. She turned away. She was being pulled off the truck.
I walked back to my students. They began to scream as they saw one of the elephants lift her leg as the keeper put a heavy chain around her ankle, the other end of which was being tied to the car. My students and several of the crowd began screaming for the men to stop. Several of my students began to cry. The media has just arrived. They turned their cameras on us. On a group of cherubic 11 year olds sobbing almost hysterically, begging the men to stop.
In the interest of fair journalism, the media asked Ringling Brothers what they thought of the students’ demands. They had no answer. They had no choice. The men took the chain off the elephant’s ankle and another off the car. The media took close-ups of the looks of relief on the faces of the cherubs.
I will never know who that elephant was. But she changed my life forever.